The second annual 810 Varsity Best of Midwest Showcase high school basketball event will take place on Saturday at Johnson County Community College. A girls game pitting St. James Academy against Olathe East kicks off the event at 11 a.m., followed by six boys games. Here are five things to watch during the showcase:
1. Two words: Michael Porter
How can a matchup between the past two Missouri big-class state champions not be the marquee matchup of the day?
When Michael Porter Jr. is coming to town.
Porter, a junior at Father Tolton Catholic (Columbia), is ranked as the No. 3 recruit in the junior class by Rivals.com. Tolton will play Blue Valley Northwest in the nightcap at 8:30 p.m.
Porter, an explosive 6-foot-9 small forward, is considering Kansas and Missouri, among others, for his college commitment. His younger brother, Jontay, a sophomore at Tolton, has already committed to Washington.
Michael Porter and his teammates plan to be at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon to watch Kansas play TCU.
Tolton, 8-1, is ranked No. 1 in Missouri Class 3 this season, one spot ahead of Barstow, the defending state champion.
2. The best in Missouri
The 4 p.m. matchup features the past two Missouri Class 5 state champions — Blue Springs South (2015) and Christian Brothers College (2014). And guess what? They’re both still pretty good in 2016, too.
CBC has one of the top backcourts in Missouri with Jordan Barnes, who has signed with Indiana State, and Christian Willis, who has signed with Arkansas State. Blue Springs South’s backcourt isn’t too shabby either. It features point guard KJ Robinson, who has committed to Nebraska-Omaha and is averaging better than 25 points per game in his senior season.
CBC’s Duane Clark, a power forward, has signed with UMKC.
3. The Star’s No. 1-ranked team
The team standing atop The Star’s big-class boys rankings — Lee’s Summit — will be in action at 5:30 p.m. against Shawnee Mission North.
Lee’s Summit is the only undefeated team remaining in the four Suburban Conferences on the Missouri side. The Tigers are guard-oriented, and that only aids their ability to spread the floor and play at a quicker pace.
SM North coach Steve Stitzer said he’s pushing his team to play at a faster speed, and he certainly has the personnel to do it, headlined by twin brothers Michael and Marcus Weathers.
4. Olathe East’s winning streak
The Olathe East girls basketball team is riding a wave of momentum with five straight victories. That span includes three Sunflower League wins, with players such as Katie Gleason, Regan Schumacher and Sydney Wilson paving the way.
Olathe East will play St. James Academy at 11 a.m., the lone girls game on the Best of Midwest Showcase slate.
While Olathe East is on a winning streak, St. James Academy snapped a four-game losing streak on Tuesday with a win against Sumner Academy. Three St. James players scored in double figures, paced by Mary Goetz’s 18 points.
5. Best of the rest
Park Hill South, which reached the Missouri Class 5 state title game last March, will face Olathe North at 7 p.m. Park Hill South is led by Ryan Welty, who is nearing 1,000 points for his career. Olathe North senior R.J. Smith has signed with Oral Roberts.
St. James Academy is scheduled to face Liberty at 12:30 p.m. St. James junior guard Zach Thornhill picked up an offer from Western Michigan this week.
Lee’s Summit North and Lawrence Free State will meet at 2 p.m.